The Utah High School Activities Association took time Monday afternoon to hear the frustration and disappointment from the schools that weren't happy with Friday's rulings on East and Timpview football.
But East still is taking the field Tuesday afternoon for a play-in game against Mountain View. And Timpview will still visit Logan on Friday.
After reviewing the complaints about its decision, the five-member UHSAA trustees panel decided it was within its rights to make Timpview forfeit every game it played an ineligible player and make East forfeit all but one. And with the Class 4A playoffs beginning in less than a day, the folks who don't like it are going to have to live with it.
"I think they felt like they were heard, but I anticipate when they hear the decision, they'll be as disappointed as they were before," UHSAA legal counsel Mark Van Wagoner said. "Considering the mess the association was given, it was impossible to have a resolution that satisfies everybody."
That much was clear at the meeting that had representatives from Herriman, Timpview, Salem Hills, Springville, Cyprus, Logan, Woods Cross, Clearfield, Westlake, Olympus and several others. The UHSAA had invited every 4A school to sit down with the association's directors and give feedback that possibly could affect the East and Timpview decisions.
But the UHSAA asked for consensus, and that was a problem.
Different schools wanted different things: Some wanted all games forfeited, some no games forfeited. Some wanted a reseeding, some didn't mind a weeklong postponement of the playoffs. Schools from the same regions ended up with some of the most heated discussion.
One of the things the schools did agree on is they wanted more consistency in UHSAA rulings. They called the different decisions in the two cases "arbitrary" and feared it would spin more uncertainty in future cases of ineligibility.
At the very least, it seems likely that when the UHSAA's constitution and bylaws committee meets in December, there should be some spirited discussion if the association should change its rules to require forfeits for playing ineligible athletes.
"If nothing changes, I would hope that the executive committee and the board of trustees would reexamine our bylines to address what I think are fundamental failings," Timpview principal Todd McKee said. "There needs to be more clarity in the process and when [forfeits] should be applied."
Van Wagoner countered the notion of the "arbitrary" ruling by saying the decision had a distinct rationale: To allow East to play while still laying on punishments, such as fines and a three-game suspension for coach Brandon Matich.
The two biggest gripes the UHSAA considered were procedural. McKee voiced concern that the region decisions were formal hearings, not recommendations, and therefore the executive committee hearing, which had enforced full forfeits for both schools, should have been the final word. The other complaint the UHSAA closely listened to was that the panel had not considered the collateral effect it would have on other teams. But both notions ultimately were dismissed.
The schools who came to the meeting did not necessarily get what they wanted. But it might not end of the discussion, at least when it comes to preventing another similar situation.
"As long as they can take on a case-by-case basis, and they can interpret whatever they want to do, every decision they're going to make is going to be arbitrary," Herriman principal Jim Birch said. "It's going to be on their emotions and their feelings, and it's a problem. I think we need to know what direction they're going to go."
Class 4A football play-in game
P Tuesday, 4 p.m.
East at Mountain View Supporting a good cause
Mountain View plans to donate its proceeds from Tuesday's play-in game against East to the Nigel Olsen and Carlos Aragon Scholarship Fund. Olsen and Aragon graduated from Mountain View a year apart, and both enlisted in the Marines shortly after graduation. Both were killed by explosions while serving in Afghanistan just three days apart in 2010.